Court Allows Release on Bail for Megaupload Co-Founder

The co-founder of Megaupload has been released on bail by a court in New Zealand, TorrentFreak informs. Mathias Ortmann is obliged to adhere to a series of strict conditions, including no Internet access. The US government will handle extradition of the Megaupload team based on a United Nations treaty. Also, it appears that last month’s raids were remotely supervised by the FBI itself.

Following his arrest almost four weeks ago, the co-founder of the former Megaupload file-hosting service has finally been conceded bail.

Mathias Ortmann was expected to be freed following a January 26th hearing, but the order was delayed due to inconsistencies in Ortmann’s finance reports.

The FBI suspects Ortmann earned around $14.5 m. from Megaupload between 2005 and 2010, and an additional $3 m. in 2011. His accounts, however, showed an unjustified excess of $3.5 m.

Mathias Ortmann was set free on Thursday and is to join his co-accused Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato at the former’s Auckland home. All three are bound to strict bail conditions, including a complete ban on Internet access.

The only member of the Megaupload team to remain detained following the raids in January is Kim Dotcom, founder of the now-defunct file-hosting service, who is due to appear in court next week.

US authorities have told the press that they intend to use a United Nations treaty aimed at fighting international organized crime to extradite all the New Zealand-based Megaupload members to the US.

While a lawyer working for the United States government disclosed that the extradition treaty does not cover copyright offenses specifically, he also pointed out that the country’s Extradition Act does list certain offenses involving trans-national crime.

In New Zealand, the law deems crimes that carry a four-year prison sentence as extraditable. Under the country’s Copyright Act, distributing proprietary work in violation of copyright law carries a five-year maximum sentence. However, due to its groundbreaking status, the extradition campaign for the Megaupload defendants is likely to be both complicated and prolonged, and could even go all the way to the Supreme Court for resolution.

On a separate note, US authorities have complimented local police on the raids they carried out last month, as revealed in the latest issue of New Zealand Police’s ‘Ten One’ magazine. Detective Superintendent Mike Pannett, who reportedly monitored events from the FBI’s command center in Washington, stated the FBI and the US Department of Justice, together with other international enforcement partners, are very content with the efforts of the local police during the New Zealand operation.

As revealed last week, the police mobilized dozens of officers – some from elite anti-terrorist divisions – to handle the arrest of the operators of Megaupload back in January.

Next, before you know, it will probably be ‘Shoot on sight!’ orders against filesharers.